5 Supplements to Think Twice About

Going overboard on some vitamins and minerals can be deadly. Learn how to stay out of the danger zone.

5 Supplements to Think Twice About

Do you pop supplements like jelly beans? When it comes to the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly, you might think you can’t get too much of a good thing—especially when they’re wrapped in foil and taste like candy. But just like wine spritzers and apple crumble, you can overdo it on supplements.

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They’re complicated: More is not always better—and more can sometimes be dangerous. Vitamins, mineral supplements and even some herbs can interfere with each another, interact with the medications your doctor prescribes and it’s even possible to overdose on them. (We’re not talking about a scene out of the movie “Pulp Fiction” here, but the effects can be serious nonetheless.)

Before you down another multivitamin full of everything from A to Z, read on to find out which ones can spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

1. Calcium
To support bone strength, stave off osteoporosis and keep your muscles and joints working well, it’s important to get enough calcium in your diet. And that’s where most of it should come from: your diet! Calcium is available in a slew of foods, including the usual suspects, milk, cheese and yogurt, and less obvious places, such as dark leafy greens, sardines, soybeans, broccoli, sesame seeds and almonds. Aim for 1,300 mg a day, and get at most 50 percent from multivitamins and calcium chews. A recent study found that getting too much calcium (more than 1,400 mg daily—especially if more than half comes from supplements) can increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer (and what goes for prostate cancer usually ends up being the same for breast cancer). And don’t forget to move! Exercise, especially resistance work, is a key piece of the prescription for healthy bones.

MORE: Recipes for Strong Bones

2. Vitamin B
We’re all tired and looking for a way to get more out of each day, so it’s no wonder that energy drinks are practically spilling out of store refrigerators wherever you go. We know that most of them contain caffeine and a lot of them tout B vitamins—niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), B6, biotin (B7), folate (B9) and B12—which help your body generate energy from your food. Well, just because the label screams Healthy vitamins!! doesn't make it a healthy beverage. Regularly downing energy drinks puts your at risk of going over your daily intake of B vitamins, which can cause nausea, hives, vomiting, mental dysfunction, nerve damage and liver issues not too far down the road. Skip the energy drinks and bulk up on better bets for B: peppers, cabbage, asparagus, spinach, clams, mushrooms, caffeinated water, tea and coffee.

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